Backyard Baseball 2003 - PC - Review

“Another day, another K.”

“You sure you want to pitch to me?”

Randy Johnson and Ken Griffey Jr. can once again become teammates, thanks to the magic of Backyard Baseball 2003, the latest PC release from Humongous and Infogrames.

While the game does have some major breakdowns in terms of the rules of baseball, and players don’t always make the right decisions, there is little that can be faulted when it comes to joyful baseball action.

If you are not familiar with the title or the series, Backyard Baseball involves a group of youngsters that bounce around the Backyard sports titles, plus younger versions of stars of the particular sport involved.

For Backyard Baseball, you’ll find younger versions of Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, Albert Pujols, Mike Piazza, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter. There are 30 “regular” kids to choose from as well as 31 professional youngsters. You can also create your own player. Each of the players is rated in four categories – batting, running, pitching and fielding.

Pick nine players; arrange your lineup the way you wish, pick a home field and then head out to the park. You can play a season or just a single game. There is even a practice-batting mode so you can get your timing down.

Sunny Day and Vinnie the Gooch provide play-by-play and color commentary, and while they can’t compare to some of the commentators employed for the big league game counterparts, they provide a light atmosphere to the game. There is taunting from opposing players, comments from your players, enthusiasm and disappointment.

Where the game departs from other programs is in the AI. If you have a baserunner stealing second, the opposing catcher will likely throw the ball to third base. There are times when he or she will throw to second, but not often. Holding the ball, or throwing to the wrong base is all part of this game, just as they are part of the real game.

Controls are simple and if gamers use a mouse, this is a point-and-click type of game.

Graphically the game is a delight. There are arcade-style pitches and power-ups for batters that enliven the game. You will have to earn all those special rewards, and use them at the right situation. This game is bright, colorful and well animated.

Backyard Baseball 2003 may be geared primarily for children, but this is a delightful game that will appeal to everyone who enjoys a game that returns a sense of childlike wonder.

This game, not surprisingly, is rated for Everyone.

Reviewer's Scoring Details

Gameplay: 8
You can bypass the commentary, and get straight to the game. The game flows just like most baseball games, with a slight break between each inning.

Graphics: 8
The environments are lush but a little static. You will see a worn path around the bases, but little other impact to the ballparks. The animations are cartoon-like and very solid.

Sound: 7
The play-by-play can be repetitive, and the voice of Vinnie the Gooch has changed. Some of the comments will be familiar to players of previous incarnations of this game, and the player taunting hasn’t changed much. Overall, while solid, this game hasn’t really changed its overall sound very much.

Difficulty: Easy
The installation will eat up some space (15 megs for a compact install, 514 for a full one), but the player controls are simple and allow anyone the opportunity to get in a play. A four-year old who tested the game was able to compete. There are three difficulty levels to suit game players.

Concept: 7
Aside from the addition of current Major League Baseball players, this game hasn’t really changed all that much from previous incarnations.

Overall: 8
This is a delightful game, light and childlike. The game has added new big leaguers, but there are not major changes to the actual game. The lack of major changes to this game still can’t diminish the overall entertainment value.

Great

Gw
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